I was almost ready to leave, just a few last things to do before heading out to work, when the phone rang. On the other end was Lori Lei, one of my co-workers. She said, "Belinda, did you think the training started at 9.30?"
"No, Belinda, it starts at 9.00! Greg said he thought he'd heard you say it started at 9.30 and I thought I'd better call you so you wouldn't be embarrassed by being late."
"Oh my goodness--thank you! I'll be right there."
With a mixture of gratitude and panic, my relaxed departure was forgotten as I shouted a frantic goodbye to Paul and grabbed my rings, which I always take off when I come home; along with car keys and purse and two other sets of keys. Susan had left those behind the night before at cell group.
As I made a dash to the car I was putting on my rings and fumbling for my car keys.
I sat behind the wheel and turned the key in the ignition, while noticing that my garnet ring was missing from my right ring finger, but since it's not unusual for me to accidentally leave one of my rings behind on the ring holder, I didn't worry. I had other concerns; getting to the training on time, and I was sure I had left it behind on my ring holder.
That night when I got home, I found the ring holder; a silver giraffe on whose tail the rings slide; empty. I remembered my hectic exit of the morning with a sinking feeling.
I retraced my steps to the car, and scanned the gravel surrounding it. I looked inside but there was no sign of the ring. Brenda saw me searching and helped. She turned up a long lost travel mug from under the car seat, but no ring. She sent Tiffany-Amber and Victoria outside to look for it. Still no ring.
Paul arrived home and found me outside, intently studying the driveway. I poured out my sad story and said that I was going to drive to the training location parking lot before it got dark, in case it had fallen from my lap when I got out of the car. "I'll drive you there," he said, and I gratefully got into his car. Once there, we both walked up and down, scanning the ground where I had been parked, but there was no sign of my ring.
I felt terrible about losing my ring and over the next several days the finger I wore it on looked conspicuously empty. I had bought it to replace a garnet ring that my mum had given me many years ago; garnet rings are a Dutch thing. I had lost the first one on a transatlantic plane journey and had felt so badly about that and it was hard to tell her that I had lost it.
On Saturday morning I was talking to Frances on the phone when Paul came in and seemed to be wanting to say something, but you know how it is when two girlfriends are catching up!
When we eventually said goodbye and I hung up the phone, Paul was lying on the couch. "Did you ever find your ring?" he asked.
"No," I said, "Why?"
He pulled his arm from behind his back and held out his hand with a smile of triumph. On his pinky finger was MY GARNET RING!
I cried out with delight--exactly the reaction he'd been hoping for I think. "Where did you find it?" I gasped.
"It was in the car, at the back, under the passenger seat, tucked in a corner. I get down on my hands and knees when I look," he said, with as much satisfaction as a cat that got the cream.
I was thrilled to put the ring right back on my finger where it belongs.
I wish I didn't give my friends and family so many opportunities to search for the precious things that I lose, but the intensity of our searching made me think of other precious things worth searching for with all of our hearts.
Jeremiah 29:13 (New International Version)
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Matthew 13:44 (New International Version)
44"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.